The hippocampus supports high-resolution binding in the service of perception, working memory and long-term memory

Behav Brain Res. 2013 Oct 1;254:34-44. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2013.05.030. Epub 2013 May 27.


It is well established that the hippocampus plays a critical role in our ability to recollect past events. A number of recent studies have indicated that the hippocampus may also play a critical role in working memory and perception, but these results have been highly controversial because other similar studies have failed to find evidence for hippocampal involvement. Thus, the precise role that the hippocampus plays in cognition is still debated. In the current paper, I propose that the hippocampus supports the generation and utilization of complex high-resolution bindings that link together the qualitative aspects that make up an event; these bindings are essential for recollection, and they can also contribute to performance across a variety of tasks including perception and working memory. An examination of the existing patient literature provides support for this proposal by showing that hippocampal damage leads to impairments on perception and working memory tasks that require complex high-resolution bindings. Conversely, hippocampal damage is much less likely to lead to impairments on tasks that require only low-resolution or simple associations/relations. The current proposal can be distinguished from earlier accounts of hippocampal function, and it generates a number of novel predictions that can be tested in future studies.

Keywords: Amnesia; Familiarity; Hippocampus; Recognition; Recollection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Memory, Long-Term / physiology*
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Perception / physiology*